Roly Porter explores the boundaries of ambient on Third Law

Third LawThe main idea behind Isaac Newton’s third law of motion is that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This also seems to be the basis of Roly Porter’s new album, the appropriately titled Third Law - a record that deals with the same ideas of expansion and simultaneous forces becoming a single interaction. The album feels like a single abstract creation - a continual work in progress without beginning or end. As with most dark ambient records, every track eventually descends into chaos by sheer repetition of turbulent noises and booming drones. Third Law isn’t exactly accessible, but there are times when it leans towards delicacy - as in the melancholy “Departure Stage” or the last minute of the colossal “Blind Blackening”.

Once a dub step pioneer, this British experimental artist has recently explored the boundaries of dark ambient and drone, refusing to work with anything that might bear the slightest resemblance to a traditional beat.  The closest thing to a conventional drum pattern on Third Law is the unpredictable and bumpy pulse on “Mass”, a nerve-racking track that actively hides a beautiful melody underneath sinister electronic layers. It’s one of the few truly palatable moments in what can be at times an impenetrable piece of work, bringing to mind Ben Frost’s earlier albums - particularly the unorthodox By The Throat.

Rather than what you might call a pleasant experience, Third Law is a challenging adventure: the kind of thought provoking album that pushes you to the limit, and builds bridges between different genres. It can be anarchic at times, yet the whole thing is ultimately very rewarding. There is a sense of accomplishment when final track “Known Space” slowly fades into silence, in doing so confirming you've survived the whole 52 minutes of the album.

Third Law is a success because it prevents any kind of emotional attachment with its cold and inert noises. It’s deliberately lifeless and scary, a window to a future devoid of anything resembling human emotions, as premièred by the opening alien drones of first track “4101”. We may not know how Roly Porter does it, but Third Law works, even if it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the infinite overlapping of discordant sounds. If you’re looking for an introduction to dark ambient, this may be too out there. If you’re familiar with the genre, you’re bound to love Third Law and its eccentricity.

Release: 22nd January 2016, Tri Angle Records


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